Approximately how much will airfare cost?

Airfare depends greatly on seat availability and the number of passengers. The best price we know at this moment costs around US $800 (including air fare, tax and security charge).

How much does eating out cost in Japan? Is Japanese food expensive?

Expenses for ten meals (7-lunch & 3-dinner parties) are included. Like anywhere, the cost of dining depends on where you go and what you eat. Dining out in Japan usually costs $10-20. If you eat and drink alcohol, it may cost $20-30 or more. For those who do not wish to spend a lot of money on food, there are also a variety of fast food restaurants such as McDonalds which charge about 500-600 yen ($5-$6) for a meal including a Coca Cola. However, during the trip, McDonalds and Coca Cola are not recommended!

Are costs of the bullet train and ground transportation reflective of the JR Pass?

As for the price of the bullet train and ground transportation, our price does not reflect the JR Rail Pass. It is cheaper not to use the JR Rail Pass because we are not taking the JR line everyday. The only exception is when you choose to visit Hiroshima as an optional tour. We will ask the applicants their choices (Stay in Kyoto or Visit Hiroshima or Kobe) and then decide whether we need to buy the JR Rail Pass or not.

Does the Japan Trip cost include donation to HSPH Student Club of Japan?

No, not at all. All Japanese students work 100% voluntary, and will pay the same price to accompany you to Japan.

The $250 non-refundable deposit will be applied to our $1500 trip fee, correct?

Yes, it is correct. The deposit will be applied to the trip fee.

When is the total trip fee due?

The full-payment due will be early February, which is the beginning of the Spring 1. --- Please don't spend too much money during the winter=)


Is this trip counted as credit at HSPH?

No. This trip is not counted as credit.


Who is the organizer?

The project team is organized by the HSPH Student Club of Japan which consists of over 20 students and fellows at HSPH.

Does the HSPH Student Club of Japan have any academic advisors?

Yes, we do. Faculty advisors will; 1) give suggestions and support to the Japan Trip project team, and 2) make presentation (s) and/or comment (s) at one of the three Japan-Trip-related seminars.

As of November 25, the faculty advisors are:
- Ezra F. Vogel, PhD Henry Ford II Professor of the Social Sciences, Emeritus, Harvard University (Asian expert, author of ‘Japan as No.1:  Lessons for America’)
- Michael Reich, PhD Taro Takemi Professor of International Health Policy, Harvard School of Public Health
- Ichiro Kawachi, MD, PhD Professor of Social Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health

Traveling Issues

Do I need a visa to visit Japan? If I need a visa, how long does it take to get a visa?

This depends on the country from which you come. Passport holders from certain countries DO NOT need a visa during a specified visa-free period. Travelers who are not from those countries need to apply for the appropriate visa or entry permit from the nearest Japanese Embassy.

To get a visa, it usually takes three working days to a week if the documentation is in order. However, there are some cases in which over a few weeks or more are needed to process an application.

(Information link: Consulate General of Japan, Boston
Do I need a visa?)
Example: USA citizens: unnecessary

Can I join the Japan Trip with my family?

Yes, you can join with your partner who is able to join the trip activities.

Can other Harvard school students and/or non-Harvard students also join?

Students from other schools who are interested in healthcare systems and Japanese public policy may be eligible unless the participant limit is reached.

Can I return to Boston earlier?

No, we cannot accept schedule change as a general rule. However, special schedule may be arranged under certain circumstances (e.g. wedding). Please contact us.

Can I stay in Japan after the tour ends?

Unfortunately, you will not be able to extend your stay in Japan. However, if you arrange an air ticket yourself, this might be possible. Please contact us.

How many students will participate in the Japan Trip?

We are expecting about 40 students at maximum.

I am Japanese. Can I join the Japan Trip?

No. This trip is only open to non-Japanese citizens.

Will faculty advisors go on the trip as well?

This has not been decided yet.

How many Japanese students will be accompanying the participants on the trip to Japan?

This has not been decided yet. However, our current estimate is between 5 and 10.

Is it possible to stay at other hotels?

No. The special prices of the Japan Trip include all accommodation fees. You cannot change hotels.

Are we sharing rooms?

Yes, we are arranging Twin rooms for participants. You can stay with your partner.

How will accommodations be assigned for the shared rooms?

We will conduct a survey for participants in January regarding request to room sharing.

Within the same survey, we will be asking about your preference in optional tours and special requests regarding food, health conditions, etc.

The Northwest flight is scheduled to leave Kansai Airport at 13:15 and the American Airlines flight is scheduled to leave at 18:30. Would all of the group go to the airport at the same time?

No. Two groups will head to the airport separately, and buses are available for both groups.

When you choose Northwest, you will leave Japan in the morning and arrive in Boston around 3:00pm on Sunday. If you choose Americans, you are able to stay longer (perhaps 3-4 hours) in Kyoto, however, the arrival in Boston will be about 9:00pm on Sunday. You can choose either flight depending on your airline preferences and schedule on Sunday.


What will we see at the Fish market?

“Tokyo Central Wholesale Market (Tsukiji Market)”, the biggest and busiest markets in the world, handles over 400 different types of seafood, over 2,000 tons a day of marine products ($15 million a day)! It imports from 60 countries on six continents. The Tsukiji morning auction of fish starts at 5:30 a.m. You will watch the fish distributors’ intense bidding. After wandering through the loud, frenetic, and fascinating market, you will taste the freshest and highest quality sushi in Japan.

What will we see at St. Luke’s Hospital?

In the 1995’s Sarin gas attack which was the most serious terrorist attack in Japan’s modern history, St. Luke’s International Hospital received 641 patients in one day. You will learn how St. Luke’s International Hospital dealt with this disaster ----hospital disaster planning, an emergency staff call-up system, and an efficient medical chart system--- from the viewpoint of disaster management.

What will we see at the government visit?

We will visit the Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare and discuss the challenges of Japan's public health system.

Are we going to meet the Minister of Health?

Yes, we plan to meet the Minister. However, appointments with very high-level-persons such as 'Minister' or 'President' may be canceled in case of unpredictable emergence situations e.g. natural disaster, terrorism, foreign affairs, and other emergent political/business situations. We've been working hard to find alternative persons and/or places when the meeting was canceled. e.g. In case of cancellation of the meeting with Minister of Health, another meeting with MOH official(s) will be scheduled.

What is the school lunch program?

School lunch program in Japan provides nutritious lunches and the opportunity to learn healthy eating behaviors and table manners at elementary school. This program has more than a century of history. In general, a group of students designated as the “lunch squad” is chosen from each class to get the food, which has been prepared in the school kitchen or at a regional school-lunch center. This group, whose members rotate regularly, is also in charge of passing out lunches and cleaning up after the lunch period.

Should I bring my formal clothes to attend the activities?

Although, we do not think it is necessary to be dressed formally, we suggest business suits in some activities (visiting hospital, government and companies). Please no jeans or T-shirts there.

About Japan

What is the weather like?

Spring tends to be mild, and is famous for cherry-blossom viewing throughout Japan. Average temperature is about 5-15 degree Celsius (40-60 degree Fahrenheit) in March in Tokyo.

What is the Bullet train “shinkansen”?

The Shinkansen is a high-speed railway network in Japan. The network has expanded to link most major cities on the islands of the Honshu (mainland) and Kyushu (the southernmost of the four main islands) with running speed up to 300 km/h.

What is Geisha?

Geisha (“persons of the arts”) are traditional Japanese artist-entertainers who were very common in the 18th and 19th centuries. Today, Geisha are exclusively female. Geisha are traditionally trained from young childhood and learn a wide variety of arts, including musical instruments, traditional forms of singing, traditional dance, tea ceremony, flower arranging, poetry, and literature.


What do you serve if I am a vegetarian?

Some vegetarian-friendly foods, such as Tofu, are available in Japan. Kyoto is also famous for a Buddhist vegetarian meal. Please let us know if you are a vegetarian.

I can’t eat raw fish. What other kinds of Japanese foods are there?

Don’t be worried. Japan has a number of traditional foods, and there are many other options available. In particular, Tokyo and Kyoto have embraced the culinary traditions of many different countries.


I can't go to the information session. Can I obtain information before or after the meeting?

We will hold two information sessions so that people may join either one of the two. This website ( is also available with updated information. Please feel free to contact us directly to ask questions about the Japan Trip.

How do I apply to the Japan Trip?

Please use the online application form. It opens on Dec 7 at 13:30 and closes on Dec 24 (Sat) at Noon. In addition, you must pay a non-refundable US$250 deposit by Dec 26 (Mon) at Noon. Details regarding the payment will be sent to applicants by e-mail.

Are all applicants accepted? How are you going to pick applicants going on the trip?

The trip is on a first-come, first-serve basis, and "first-come" will be judged based on the payment of the deposit.